On April 9, Richard Dreyfuss filed suit against Walt Disney Pictures claiming that Disney has wrongfully refused him access to its books. The Oscar winner says he wants to know if Disney owes him money for his work in What About Bob?.
In the seven count complaint, Dreyfuss and Turner & Hooch producer Raymond Wagner’s widow contend, among other things, that Disney has breached their contracts by refusing them the opportunity to audit the books. The pair claims that Disney will not allow the accountants of their choice, Robinson & Company, Inc., to perform the audits because Disney is aware that Robison is particularly aggressive and usually achieves large recoveries for its clients. In fact, the complaint goes on to contend that Disney will only allow one of the Big Four accounting firms to complete the audit even though those companies do not understand the complexities of Hollywood accounting. Yet, Dreyfuss says Robinson and only a few other firms, none of which are Big Four firms, have relevant experience.
In the scathing complaint, the actor contends that Disney is making it “exceedingly difficult for profit participants to retain the best possible representation and be paid the monies they are due.” He further contends that it is not uncommon for major Hollywood studios, including Disney, to “blackball” actors who attempt to obtain monies owed to them by pursuing their audit rights. “It’s a one-sided world where corporations assert their control over talent who do not have the leverage to otherwise protect themselves,” the actor alleges. As a result, when big stars battle over audits with the studios, it never gets reported because of confidentiality agreements and arbitration requirements.
Decades after the popular films’ releases, Dreyfuss and Christine Wagner are hoping to cash in on the movies success. What About Bob? made nearly $64 million from the U.S. and Canadian box offices, and Turner & Hooch garnered nearly $72 million. Once other revenues, including home video sales and international box office sales, are included, the pair may be owed a significant amount of money if their chosen accountant has anything to say about it.